The term "personal branding" sounds like something that is unattainable, so why bother?  Read on.

A personal brand, for a company and a persona is a shop window for the modern, internet enable buyer to look into.

We believe that the world has changed through social media.  Both society and business.  We believe that companies need to change to meet this challenge and enable them to grasp the opportunities. 

People are all aware of the term "we are all in sales", meaning that everybody in the company, regardless of which department; sales marketing, human resources, customer service, finance, procurement are all "in sales".

That maybe so, but we are all now in "branding".  Everybody.  Sales marketing, human resources, customer service, finance, procurement is all in branding. In fact we always have been but this time we can do it at scale.

Take today, I was on a call with somebody and we might do business together.  The time is taken talking about our companies, talking about ourselves, building rapport and building trust.

I'm thinking, will this guy rip me off, will his company rip me off and he was thinking the same.  The same "song and dance" is done all over the world in first meetings to see if there is a meeting of minds.  But ... there is a way to short cut all of this.

Social media.

We as individuals can build trust on social.

I had the president of a company approach me today and I took that conversation off line to talk about doing business.  Social has tuned that first call from a "song and dance" to one about business.  When we say we can cut the sales cycle by 40% this is an example.

You with a LinkedIn profile of your CV from a few years ago, are Presidents of companies approaching you and you doing business, I doubt it.

Trust is the currency for sales and marketing today and in the future.  You can showcase your "trust" credentials on social media for everybody to see. 

We trust certain brands (and people) and don't trust other brands (and people).

We trust Amazon, you can now put an Amazon lock on the door of your house to allow parcels to be delivered.  Would you give the same trust to Facebook?  I don't think so.  That website with the spammy pop-ups would you buy one of their door locks?  I doubt that too.

Every process and every interaction you have with a customer (and an employee) now in the internet empowered world will either create trust or destroy it.

Every interaction you have in the sales, marketing, human resources process will create or destroy trust.

In the digital economy the customer has the right to opt-in as they do the right to opt-out.

This is the converse of interruption.  Since the 1930 people have interrupted you.  Advertising, cold calling, unsolicited emails all are untrustworthy ... they interrupt us and they piss us off.

Anybody that is running an interruption sales and marketing program is pushing customers, prospects and employees away.

Social media has changed society and its changed business. Just think, the Arab spring, the ALS Ice Bucket challenge and turn on the TV News and it will be about who has tweeted. You may not like the freedoms that social media gives us in society, but the genie is out of the bottle.

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In business, social has transformed the way we work. We are able to look people up before we meet them and make judgements about what you are like. Will it be an insightful meeting or will it be dull and I should I just cancel it at the last moment?

In the last 5 years most businesses, have approached social media from a tactical point of view. Each department, Sales, Human Resources (HR), Customer Experience (CX), Marketing etc have had their own siloed team and the order of the day has been to tactically post, chasing likes and followers.  

But something has changed. All the world is on social media. The research from Hootsuite and We are Social Media shows there are 3.75 Billion people in the world active on social media. From a B2B Enterprise prospective, that is pretty much everybody you are going to need to sell to. 

Research by Accenture shows that we are spending 6.4 hours a day on the internet, which if we take out the time we are asleep, we are now spending half our lives on the internet.

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In the last 5 years, Social media has grown up from a tactical play thing to a global phenomenon. That growth means that as well as changing society globally, it’s changed commerce and business leaders like us are waking up and not viewing social media tactically, but, strategically.  

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In fact, Social Media has become a boardroom issue.

As we start a new decade, the actions we take in the next few years will govern if we are going to remain relevant to this social media empowered customer. Leadership is about understanding the opportunity and leading with it within our organisation. What got us here, won’t get us there and this will require your business to change. Change in our people, change in our process and change in our leadership.

What will that mean for our business? While social transformation in sales, often called social selling or digital selling, often grabs the headlines, Social impacts across the whole of the enterprise. Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Human Resources. Empowering, the employees to communicate internally and externally, as well as providing a business case to increase revenue and reduce costs.  This is about embedding (internal and external) trust right across the business.

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While, 2030 seems a long way away, our businesses will only survive if we connect with our prospects, clients, employees, future employees and suppliers. And they are all on, and are active on, social media. It’s time to grasp the social media thistle. 

Love to hear your thoughts on this!